Sunday, March 9, 2008

Emergency Contact Information

Carry this information with you along with other important documents in your hand-carry luggage.

Share a copy with family/friends who need to know.

Please note time differences when making calls:
¨ Americus, Georgia (GV headquarters) is on Eastern Standard Time.
¨ For Papua New Guinea, from the East Coast, you have to add 14 hours (ie: at 9pm Sunday night in New York, it is 11am on Monday morning in PNG)
¨ For Singapore, where most of us have a layover before entering PNG and upon departure of PNG, you have to add 12 hours (ie: at 9pm Sunday night in NY, it is 9am on Monday morning in Singapore)

If you experience delays or problems while traveling, you can notify your team leaders if you think it is necessary:
1) by email at

2) call our son, Anders, in Oregon at 541-915-3494. If you don’t show up at a designated time, we’ll know to contact him to see if you’ve called.

3) leave a message at the Oxford Hotel in Singapore at (65) 6334- 9633

4) try to send an email to the Oxford Hotel with instructions to contact your team leaders at

5) leave a message with the PNG national office representatives (Elaine Namuesh 675-472-0113/692 1001, or Martin Petrus 675-472—0113/691 0440)

6) call the Asia Pacific coordinator, Allyson Drinnon, at 1-800-422-4828, ext 7527

If you experience a medical emergency while traveling on your own, contact:

MEDEX Travelers Assistance Network (24/7)
Policy number 6404-54-47, MEDEX code CHB
1-800-527-0218 OR 1-410-453-6330 (US)

If you experience trouble making this call, use the emergency GV cell phone, in Americus, Georgia, at 229-938-8870

For your families, in an EMERGENCY, have them use one of these numbers (remind them of the time difference indicated above) – if they have trouble making an overseas call, they should use one of the other two options.

1) leave a message with the PNG national office representatives (Elaine Namuesh 675-472-0113/692 1001, or Martin Petrus 675-472—0113/691 0440)

2) call the Asia Pacific coordinator, Allyson Drinnon, at 1-800-422-4828, ext 7527

3) call the Global Village emergency cell phone in Americus, Georgia at 229-938-8870 or the director, David Minich at the office 229-942-6935, ext 2547, or his home 229-928-9341

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Immunizations for going to PNG

We, as team leaders, cannot tell you exactly what you have to do to protect your health on this trip. That decision is between you and your health care provider. Because of the health risks that do exist in PNG, we strongly advise you to seek out a "travel doctor" or clinic that is familiar with international travel and current exposure potential. For example, I have been told that dengue is presently not a risk in PNG. However, your travel doctor will have more current information and may advise you differently.

Of course there is more to health care than immunizations...such as wearing sunblock and a hat and drinking plenty of water. Your physician will advise you on all of this, as well as other preventative measures.The travel clinic will want you to bring information regarding your your up-to-date list of vaccinations, medications, allergies/sensitivities and recent illnesses.

In addition, we encourage you to have a routine check with your General Practitioner, regarding your blood pressure, medications, and overall health for this trip. Let him/her know what the "travel doctor" recommended for you and see if there is an agreeance. For your information, as a measure towards preventing malaria, we are going to be purchasing bed nets to put over you and your mattress at night. We'll leave those nets with the affiliate when we leave. Also, for those of you who often donate blood, please note: You are not allowed to donate blood for 1 year after you have returned from a malarious area.Most of the following information came the CDC website: If you go to that website, there are other links mentioned that you can go to for further information.If you have ANY questions, please ask!

To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it.Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.CDC recommends that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. Find a travel medicine clinic near you. If you have a medical condition, you should also share your travel plans with any doctors you are currently seeing for other medical reasons.If your travel plans will take you to more than one country during a single trip, be sure to let your health-care provider know so that you can receive the appropriate vaccinations and information for all of your destinations.

Although yellow fever is not a disease risk in Papua New Guinea, the government requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. If you will be traveling to one of these countries where yellow fever is present before arriving in Papua New Guinea, this requirement must be taken into consideration.

Drugs to Prevent Malaria (antimalarial drugs)If you will be visiting a malaria risk area in Papua New Guinea, you will need to take one of the following antimalarial drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine (primaquine in special circumstances and only after G6PD testing).Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Papua New Guinea and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region. Malaria risk area in Papua New Guinea: Risk throughout at altitudes below 1,800 m (<5,906>
a.. Sunblock and sunglasses for protection from harmful effects of UV sun rays.
b.. Antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

To prevent insect/mosquito bites, bring:
a.. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat to wear outside, whenever possible.
b.. Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of mosquitoes. The product should contain a pyrethroid insecticide; these insecticides quickly kill flying insects, including mosquitoes.
c.. Bed nets treated with permethrin, if you will not be sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room and will be in malaria-risk areas. For use and purchasing information, see Insecticide Treated Bed Nets on the CDC malaria site. Overseas, permethrin or another insecticide, deltamethrin, may be purchased to treat bed nets and clothes.Be sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Check the links below to see which vaccinations adults and children should get.Routine vaccines, as they are often called, such as for influenza, chickenpox (or varicella), polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) are given at all stages of life; see the childhood and adolescent immunization schedule and routine adult immunization schedule.Routine vaccines are recommended even if you do not travel. Although childhood diseases, such as measles, rarely occur in the United States, they are still common in many parts of the world. A traveler who is not vaccinated would be at risk for infection.Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Vaccination or Disease Recommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Routine Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, etc. Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG) Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors. Hepatitis B Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map) and who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment, such as for an accident, and for all adults requesting protection from HBV infection. Typhoid Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in Southern and Western Pacific, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water. Japanese encephalitis Recommended if you plan to visit rural farming areas and under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis, see country-specific information. (VACCINE NOT ROUTINELY RECOMMENDED)Although yellow fever is not a disease risk in Papua New Guinea, the government requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to present proof of yellow fever vaccination.Update: Dengue, Tropical and Subtropical RegionsThis information is current as of today, November 01, 2007 at 16:28Updated: September 19, 2007Dengue has become one of the most common viral diseases transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes (usually Aedes aegypti); it is the most common cause of fever in travelers returned from the Caribbean, Central America, and South Central Asia.* Symptoms of dengue include fever, severe headache, retro-orbital eye pain (pain behind the eye), joint and muscle pain, and rash. Dengue can produce a range of illness from mild to severe, as well as fatal hemorrhagic fever. Travelers are at risk for dengue infection if they travel to or reside in areas where dengue virus is transmitted; the preventive measures outlined below can reduce their risk.Dengue Risk AreasThe range of areas where dengue is located has rapidly expanded in recent years. Today it includes many tropical countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, South and Central America, northeastern Australia, and Africa. See the Distribution of dengue maps for areas where it is present most of the time. Risk of infection is related to mosquito exposure, which can vary with the season. The mosquitoes that transmit dengue breed in man-made and natural containers, which are especially common in and around houses; therefore, dengue is common where many houses are clustered.Currently, an outbreak of dengue is being reported in French Polynesia and Palau in the South Pacific. Singapore is also experiencing an increase in dengue cases this year. As of June 30, 2007, the outbreak of dengue in Paraguay was reported to be subsiding. Other areas in South and Central America and the Caribbean, such as Brazil, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico, are experiencing an increase in dengue cases in 2007.Prevention Measures for TravelersNo vaccine is available to prevent dengue, and there is no specific treatment other than therapeutic support. Travelers can reduce their risk by protecting themselves from mosquito bites: a.. Use insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on exposed skin. DEET concentrations of 30% to 50% are effective for several hours. Picaridin, available in 7% and 15% concentrations, must be applied more frequently. When using sunscreen, apply it before insect repellent. a.. DEET formulations as high as 50% are recommended for both adults and children over 2 months of age. Protect infants less than 2 months of age by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit. b.. Wear loose, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors. c.. Indoors, spray insecticide where the Aedes mosquito likes to linger: closets, behind curtains, and under beds. If practical, empty or cover containers containing water. d.. Air conditioned, screened rooms furnished with mosquito nets provide further protection. e.. Empty or cover containers that can collect water (e.g., uncovered barrels, flower vases, or cisterns), because mosquitoes that transmit dengue breed in standing water.Aedes mosquitoes, the principal mosquito vector, usually are active at dusk and dawn, but may feed at any time during the day, especially indoors, in shady areas, or when the weather is cloudy. Unlike malaria, dengue is often transmitted in urban as well as in rural areas.Many diseases, like malaria and dengue, are spread through insect bites. One of the best protections is to prevent insect bites by: a.. Using insect repellent (bug spray) with 30%-50% DEET. Picaridin, available in 7% and 15% concentrations, needs more frequent application. There is less information available on how effective picaridin is at protecting against all of the types of mosquitoes that transmit malaria. b.. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat outdoors. c.. Remaining indoors in a screened or air-conditioned area during the peak biting period for malaria (dusk and dawn). d.. Sleeping in beds covered by nets treated with permethrin, if not sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room. e.. Spraying rooms with products effective against flying insects, such as those containing pyrethroid.Additional InformationProper diagnosis of dengue is important; many other diseases may mimic dengue and health-care providers should consider dengue, malaria, and (in South Asia and countries bordering the Indian Ocean), chikungunya in the differential diagnosis of patients who have fever and a history of travel to tropical areas during the 2 weeks before symptom onset. See Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever: Information for Health-Care Practitioners for information regarding reporting dengue cases and instructions for specimen shipping. Serum samples obtained for viral identification and serologic diagnosis can be sent through state or territorial health departments to CDC's Dengue Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases, 1324 Calle Cañada, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00920-3860; telephone, 787-706-2399; fax, 787-706-2496.You should purchase your antimalarial drugs before travel. Drugs purchased overseas may not be manufactured according to United States standards and may not be effective. They also may be dangerous, contain counterfeit medications or contaminants, or be combinations of drugs that are not safe to use.Halofantrine (marketed as Halfan) is widely used overseas to treat malaria. CDC recommends that you do NOT use halofantrine because of serious heart-related side effects, including deaths. You should avoid using antimalarial drugs that are not recommended unless you have been diagnosed with life-threatening malaria and no other options are immediately available.For detailed information about these antimalarial drugs, see Information for the Public: Prescription Drugs for Malaria.More Information About MalariaMalaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health-care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below).Travelers to malaria risk-areas in Papua New Guinea, including infants, children, and former residents of Papua New Guinea, should take one of the following antimalarial drugs listed above.SymptomsMalaria symptoms may include a.. fever b.. chills c.. sweats d.. headache e.. body aches f.. nausea and vomiting g.. fatigueMalaria symptoms will occur at least 7 to 9 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Fever in the first week of travel in a malaria-risk area is unlikely to be malaria; however, you should see a doctor right away if you develop a fever during your trip.Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice. Malaria infections with Plasmodium falciparum, if not promptly treated, may cause kidney failure, coma, and death. Despite using the protective measures outlined above, travelers may still develop malaria up to a year after returning from a malarious area. You should see a doctor immediately if you develop a fever anytime during the year following your return and tell the physician of your travel.Malaria symptoms can develop as early as 7 days after initial exposure in a malaria-endemic area and as late as several months after departure from a malarious area, after chemoprophylaxis has been terminated.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Travel Medical Insurance Information

Travel Medical Insurance

Global Village Program
A portion of your work trip fee established by your team leader
covers the cost of insurance coverage. Through paying your fee,
you will automatically be insured against accidental loss of life,
limb, sight, speech or hearing while participating in volunteer
activities sponsored and supervised by Habitat for Humanity.
This mandatory insurance coverage is consistent with policies
recommended by Habitat for Humanity International’s Legal
department and ratified by the HFHI board of directors on Feb.
10, 1994. The coverage is designed to ensure a comprehensive
risk management program and to provide protection to Habitat’s
Global Village trip volunteers.

We have a serious commitment to risk management and
assume everyone is willing to comply.

Note: Covered medical expenses incurred for treatment
of a pre-existing condition are limited to a maximum
of $50,000. “Pre-existing condition” means any injury or
illness that was contracted or that manifested itself, or for
which treatment or medication was prescribed, prior to
the effective date of this insurance.

To file a claim, consult with the team leader immediately and
request a claim form. See “Quick Tips for Filing a Claim”
(below) for proper procedures and assistance in filing a claim.

Specifications, Provisions and Exclusions
Coverage is sold on a per-day basis and commences at the
actual start of the trip from the insured’s residence or designated
departure point. Coverage terminates immediately upon
return to the insured’s residence or designated return point,
or at the end of the published itinerary.

Note: Anyone traveling five days before or five days after
their official team dates is offered (automatically) the same
coverage at no additional cost.
Unfortunately, no other
extensions of this coverage are available. You must be sure
to properly insure yourself for all other personal travel.

The policy does not cover loss caused by or resulting
from any of the following: intentionally self-inflicted injuries;
suicide while sane; attempted suicide while sane; pregnancy,
childbirth or miscarriage; accident occurring while a passenger
on, operating or learning to operate, or serving as a
crew member of any aircraft. Injuries or sickness sustained
while under the influence of drugs (other than prescribed)
or alcohol are not covered. Injuries or illness sustained while
racing or committing or attempting to commit a felony are
not covered. This is a general summary, but it is still subject
to the policy terms, conditions and exclusions.

Medical Assistance
Medical assistance for Global Village team members is available
24 hours a day, seven days a week. It includes the following:
• Medical evacuation and repatriation benefit. Your expenses
up to $150,000 will be covered in the case that accidental
bodily injury, disease or illness requires your medical
evacuation or repatriation while on a covered trip.
• Multilingual MEDEX assistance specialists.
• Assistance in locating the nearest, most appropriate
medical care.
• International MEDEX preferred provider networks.
• MEDEX program medical advisors (physician) consultative
and advisory services, including review of appropriateness
and analysis of medical care.
• Assistance in establishing contact with family, personal
physician and employer, as appropriate.
• Monitoring progress during treatment and recovery.
• Emergency message transmittal services.
• Translation services and referrals to local interpreters, as
• Verification of insurance coverage facilitating entry and
admissions to hospitals and other medical care providers.
• Special assistance regarding the coordination of direct
claims payment.
• Emergency funds transfers.
• Coordination of embassy and consulate services.
• Management, arrangement and coordination of emergency medical transportation, as necessary.
• Management, arrangement and coordination of repatriation of remains.
• Knowledgeable legal referral assistance.
• Coordination of securing bail bonds and other legaldocuments.
• Special assistance in replacing lost or stolen travel documents,including passport.
• Courtesy assistance in securing incidental aid and othertravel-related services.
• Special assistance in making arrangements for interrupted or disrupted travel plans resulting from emergency situations, including:
1. The return of unaccompanied travel companions.
2. Travel to the bedside of a stranded person.
3. Rearrangement of ticketing due to accident or illness and other travel-related emergencies. 4. The return of stranded motor vehicles and related personal items.

Covered Services Per Volunteer Benefits
Medical Accident or Sickness. . . . . . . $250,000 Max.
Deductible. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . None
Coverage (%) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100%
Permanent Total Disability . . . . . . . . . . . . $250,000
Emergency Medical Evacuation . . . . . . . . $150,000
Accidental Death & Dismemberment. . . . . . $250,000
Repatriation of Remains . . . . . . . . . . . . . $150,000
Medical Assistance Services . . . . . . . . . . . MEDEX

Quick Tips for Filing a Claim
Policy 6404-54-47 MEDEX Code CHB
1. Notify your Global Village team leader of any accident
or need for medical attention as soon as possible.
2. Your team leader will supply you with an accident claim
form that needs to be completed and sent to Habitat
Claims Unit c/o Chubb Group of Insurance Co. Details
are on the form.
3. Be certain the attending physician completes the
“Physician’s Report” section of the claim form, including
diagnostic/treatment, signature and date.
4. Obtain a copy of the hospital/clinic invoices and make
copies of all prescriptions/invoices and submit same
with the claim form.
5. Have your team leader sign the form.
6. Claims must be submitted within 90 days from the date
of the accident/injury/illness.

Important: If assistance is needed in identifying an appropriate
medical provider or facility, contact MEDEX at (800)
527-0218 or collect at (410) 453-6330. MEDEX code is CHB.

Urgent Care and Evaluation: If emergency evacuation
and/or urgent care are needed, contact MEDEX immediately.
MEDEX will make all the appropriate arrangements.
See phone numbers above.

Note: Even if the claim amount is considered too small for
submission, or it is determined by diagnostic evaluation that
the condition may not be serious or requires no further medical
treatment at the time, the Global Village program and its
underwriter recommend completing all of the above steps in
order to establish a basis for admission of a valid claim later.
Toll free numbers are available in some countries as listed
below. You should call collect if the toll free number is
not accepted by the local telephone exchange.

International Toll Free Telephone Access Numbers
Australia and . . . . . . 1-800-127-907
Austria . . . . . . . . . . 0-800-29-5810
Belgium. . . . . . . . . . 0800-1-7759
Brazil . . . . . . . . . . 0800-891-2734
China. . . . . . . 108888-800-527-0218
(North : Beijing, etc)
China. . . . . . . 10811-800-527-0218
(South : Shanghai, etc)
Egypt. . . . 510-0200-1-877-569-4151
(inside Cairo)
Egypt. . . 02-510-0200-1-877-569-4151
(outside of Cairo)
Finland. . . . . . . . . . 0800-114402
France and Monaco. . . 0800-90-8505
Germany. . . . . . . . 0800-1-811401
Greece . . . . . . . 00-800-4412-8821
Hong Kong . . . . . . . . 800-96-4421
Indonesia. . . . . . 001-803-1471-0621
Israel . . . . . . . . . . 1-800-941-0172
Italy, Vatican City . . . . . 800-877-204
and San Marino
Japan . . . . . . . . . . 00531-11-4065
Mexico. . . . . . . . 001-800-101-0061
Netherlands. . . . . . . 0800-022-8662
New Zealand. . . . . . . 0800-44-4053
Philippines. . . . . . 1-800-1-111-0503
Portugal. . . . . . . . . . 0800-84-4266
Republic of . . . . . . . 1-800-409-529
Ireland (Eire)
Republic of . . . . . . . . 0800-9-92379
South Africa
Singapore. . . . . . . . . 800-1100-452
South Korea . . . . 00798-1-1-004-7101
Spain and Majorca. . . . 900-98-4467
Switzerland and . . . . . 0800-55-6029
Thailand. . . . . . 001-800-11-471-0661
Turkey. . . . . . . . 00-800-4491-4834
UK and. . . . . . . . . . 0800-252-074
Northern Ireland, Isle of Jersey,
the Channel Isles and Isle of Man
United States. . . . . . 1-800-527-0218
Canada, Puerto Rico,
U.S. Virgin Islands, Bermuda

MEDEX Assistance Coordination Centers
United States. . . . . [1] 410-453-6330
Baltimore, Maryland

United Kingdom. . [44] 1-273-223000
Brighton, England

Notes:• When a toll free number is not available, travelers are encouraged to call MEDEX collect. The country code precedes the phone number in brackets. The toll free numbers listed are available only when physically calling from within the country.
• The toll free Israel line is not available from payphones and there is a local access charge.
• The toll free Italy, Vatican City and San Marinonumbers have a local charge for access.
• The toll free Japan line is available only from touch-tone phones (including pay phones) equippedfor international dialing.
• If calling from Mexico on a pay phone, the payphone must be a La Datel pay phone.

Global Vilage department : P.O. Box 369 Americus, GA 31709-0369 USA
phone: (229) 924-6935, Ext. 2549; (800) 422-4828 in the U.S. or Canada fax: (267) 295-8714 e-mail:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Make a Donation or a Payment!

Donations by sponsors or payments by participants are made the same way for this particular team.

Sorry, credit cards cannot be used.

Write a check out to "Habitat for Humanity Anchorage"
(the sponsoring organization for this team). Anchorage does NOT keep any of the money, they are only handling the accounting. ALL money will go to the PNG team fund.

In the memo section put PNG-GV8341 and the team member's name that you are supporting. If you want to support the whole team, just put the code number.

ANY amount of donation is greatly appreciated by the team, and the families in PNG.

Mail the check to:
Leslie Bell
868 6th St
Springfield, OR 97477

Leslie is the team leader AND the volunteer accountant for this particular fund at Anchorage Habitat.

A tax deductible receipt from Habitat Anchorage will be sent to the name and address that is printed on the check. Make sure the address is current! If you do not receive a receipt, contact Leslie at or the team member that you are supporting to make sure the check was received.

Thank you!

Read about the Mozambique team, June 28-July 12

To read about the Mozambique team, June 28-July 12, click on

Read about the Nepal team, Nov 8-22

To read about the Nepal team, Nov 8-22, click on

Friday, January 25, 2008

History of PNG - Pre 20th Century & Modern

Pre 20th Century History

It is believed that Papua New Guinea was originally inhabited by Asian settlers over 50,000 years ago. The first European contact in 1526-27 was by the Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses, who named the island Ilhas dos Papuas (Island of the Fuzzy Hairs). The Spaniard Inigo Ortiz de Retes later called it New Guinea because he thought the people similar to those of Guinea in Africa. Further exploration followed, including landings by Bougainville, Cook, Stanley and John Moresby.

A large, rather daunting place, New Guinea was left alone for several centuries, with only the Dutch making any effort to assert European authority over the island. But in 1824, the Dutch (seeking to shore up their profitable Dutch East Indies empire) formalised their claims to sovereignty over the western portion of the island. Germany followed, taking possession of the northern part of the territory in 1884. A colonial troika was completed three days later when Britain declared a protectorate over the southern region; outright annexation occurred four years later.

Modern History

n 1906, British New Guinea became Papua, and administration of the region was taken over by newly independent Australia. With the outbreak of WWI, Australian troops promptly secured the German headquarters at Rabaul, subsequently taking control of German New Guinea. In 1920, the League of Nations officially handed it over to Australia as a mandated territory. During WWII the northern islands and most of the northern coast fell to the Japanese who advanced southward until stalled by Allied forces. By 1945 the mainland and Bougainville had been recaptured, but the Japanese were impregnable in New Ireland and especially Rabaul in New Britain, where they dug 500km of tunnels. They surrendered these strongholds at the end of the war. Post-war, the eastern half of New Guinea reverted to Australia and became the Territory of Papua & New Guinea. Indonesia took control of Dutch New Guinea in 1963 (incorporating it into the Indonesian state as Irian Jaya). PNG was granted self-government in 1973, and full independence was achieved in 1975.

Papua New Guinea's most immediate concern after independence was its relations with powerful neighbour Indonesia. After Indonesia's takeover of Irian Jaya, many West Papuans organised a guerrilla resistance movement - Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) - which fought Indonesian forces with limited success. Tensions decreased markedly after 1985, as the flow of refugees (estimated at over 10,000) between Irian Jaya (now called West Papua) and PNG slowed. There are still 7500 West Papuan refugees living in camps in Western Province - the largest expatriate group in the country.

However, a new trouble spot for PNG soon appeared on Bougainville Island, where the locals regard themselves as racially and culturally distinct from mainlanders. Bougainvilleans were embittered by the environmental destruction caused by the giant Australian-owned Panguna copper mine and by the way revenue from the mine filled a third of the national coffers but did not find its way back to their island. They formed the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and forced the mine to close in 1989. This act, coupled with rebel demands for secession, sparked a major military confrontation with PNG forces and a resulting slew of human rights abuses.

After much bloodshed - including the notorious St Valentine's Day Massacre of 1990 when gunships, supplied by Australia, were deployed in an offensive role by the PNG security forces - peace talks were tentatively staged. But in 1992, then Prime Minister Wingti launched another major offensive against the rebels, further exacerbating the situation. The conflict claimed the scalp of the next prime minister, Sir Julius Chan, in early 1997 when PNG military leaders refused to co-operate with a US$35 million covert operation that involved South African mercenaries re-taking the island by force. The mercenaries were sent home and Sir Julius resigned. Elections in mid-1997 saw Bill Skate take up the office.

The Bougainville war officially ended in April 1998 - during the course of the 10-year war around 40,000 Bougainville islanders became refugees, and up to 20,000 people were killed. Rising optimism over the ceasefire was rapidly tempered by a corruption scandal fizzing up around Bill Skate, and a catastrophic drought, caused by El Niño and felt worst in the central Highlands provinces. Around 500 deaths were attributed to resulting hunger and disease and more than 650,000 people were severely affected. As if that wasn't enough, in July 1998 three giant tsunamis hit PNG's north-west coast - up to 3000 people were killed as villages along the coast were completely flattened. However, with the Bougainville ceasefire holding, cautious optimism is abroad.

Recent History

In November 2000, the government announced plans to relocate 1000 inhabitants of Duke of York atoll, which is slowly sinking due to shifting tectonic plates accompanied by volcanic activity. Meanwhile the country continued to teeter on the brink of lawlessness, to the point that, in his third term as prime minister, Sir Michael Somare invited the former colonial masters to intervene in July 2004. Australia agreed to send 300 police and bureaucrats to help fight crime and corruption. However, the Australian police were soon on their way home again when certain terms of their deployment were found to be unconstitutional in a local court challenge. Bougainville's first president was elected in mid-2005.